Growing food in the colder months of the year is a challenge, and growers in colder climates that want to extend the crop-growing season are always looking for a better way to do so. Greenhouses are a great option, but they cost a lot of money to construct and heat during the colder months. The American sustainable agriculture non-profit organization Benson Institute has come up with a set of easy to follow instructions on how to build a much cheaper alternative, the so-called walipini, which means “place of warmth” in Aymara Indian. The walipini is basically an underground, pit greenhouse in which it possible to grow vegetables all year, even in the coldest regions of the world.
The Santa Monica-based award-winning green design studio Minarc partnered up with Habitat for Humanity, and a local non-profit firm Restore Neighborhoods LA to design and build affordable, net-zero energy prefabricated homes in the low-income areas of South Los Angeles. Together they built 3 homes, which were all built on vacant lots in the poorest neighborhood of South Los Angeles. The houses all feature Minarc’s innovative, interlocking panel system, which is called mnmMOD. The homes are also equipped with roof top mounted solar panels.
Lulu, a single mom from Southern California, recently went back to school, which prevented her from working full time to pay a market rent. Due to this she was forced to move out of her conventional home, so instead she decided to build for herself and her small daughter a home from a shipping container. She built the home herself with no prior construction experience.
Lulu was given the shipping container for free, and it took her about a month to cut out the windows and doors using a saw. She then installed the needed insulation to which she added bubble wrap to prevent condensation buildup. For the floor and ceiling, she opted for Styrofoam insulation. She also performed some basic plumbing to get running water in the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is equipped with a propane camp stove and a portable, propane-powered on-demand water heater.
Karuna House, a single family residence which stands on the hilltops of Yamhill County, Oregon has received the Passive House (PHUIS+), Minergie-P-ECO and LEED for Homes Platinum certifications. It is the only house in the world to receive all these hallmark certifications of green building. The house was designed by Holst Architecture and built by the company Hammer & Hand.
Betty Ybarra is about to move into the first house she has ever owned, a tiny home which she helped build. The tiny homes for the homeless project is the brainchild of Occupy Madison, a non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin. Betty’s is the first tiny house the group has built, and her and Occupy Madison volunteers have been building it for about two months. The finished 96-foot-square tiny home is now ready, and cost about $3000 to build. The money needed to build the home came entirely from donations from the community.